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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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196                                 LIFE   OF
TMs prodiices that higher degree of natural appre-
ciation, of which Hurnboldt, on another occasion, says,
that it springs from ideas from a comprehension of
nature. The pictures of natural life received by the
perceptive faculties, are reflected on the feeling and
the imagination, and thus reveal an inner world in
man. This inner world must be studied by intelligent
men, for it teaches us to know the source of our
reasonings, of our mental activity, and our emotions.
By exciting the phantasy, which first is agreeably im-
pressed by the view of natural objects, and afterwards
endeavours to retain the fugitive picture, most men
are excited to a nearer acquaintance with objective
nature. The desire for distant, new, unknown forms
of nature is excited, with it the attempt at a poetical
treatment of natural scenes, at artistic representation
of the beauties of nature in landscape painting, or the
cultivation of graceful or noble plants and animals.
Humboldt wishes to make all these feelings more
-anrversal, more intelligible, and more prodxictive, and
-therefore, at his advanced age, he begins to write on
It, The second part of " ELosmos"" treats exclusively
of this subject.
Starting with a description of nature, he endeavours
to describe the feeling for nature as it existed in
different ages and nations; he shows that in the
remotest antiquity, the time of the Hebrews and the-
Indians, feeling- for isature was not quite absent.,
though less loud and evident ; that the Greek had
neither description nor poetry of nature, and only took
landscapes for no more than the background for
passions, heroisms, &a, delineated by human figures ;
that the Koman was still more sparing in his suscep-
tibility for the beauties of nature, and left this sense
"undeveloped, spite of his country-life and tillage of
the fields, in the cold solemnity, sober prudence, and
exclusively practical direction of their popular life;
iiow,, with Christianity, the feelings of the ancients,
till then dead, and directed only to action and to the
expression of human power, and not to external
objects, were inspired with new senses; how, with